Following the retirement of Supreme Court Judge, Anthony Kennedy, the Democrats have been left with few options. The recent Senate changes indicate that for a Supreme Court nominee to advance; only a simple majority vote will be necessary.
Interestingly, the Democrats have 49 out of 100 seats in the Senate and the absence of John McCain means that have to win over at least one Republican to bar a nominee from advancing.
Donald Trump’s preferred replacement for Kennedy will definitely shift the Courts balance to the right. The president has indicated that he will choose a candidate from a list of 25 nominees. The list comprises of federal appellate judges with excellent resumes. However, Democrats are worried because the potential nominee could be affiliated to the right wing.
The two Republican targets that the Democrats can capitalize on are the moderates such as Susan Collins of Maine and Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski. The two back abortion rights and also voted against the repealing of the Affordable Care Act in 2017. Choosing a conservative replacement for Kennedy would most likely lead to the overturning of the 1973 ruling- Roe v Wade which guaranteed a woman’s abortion rights.
However, it will not be an easy task holding the Democrats together as depicted by the statement of West Virginia’s Joe Manchin. Mr. Manchin said that he is looking forward to analyzing the qualifications of the President’s preferred nominee. Coincidentally, he was one of the three Democrats who supported the first Supreme Court pick by President Trump. The others were Indiana’s Joe Donnelly and North Dakota’s Heidi Heitkamp. The three Democrats will be on the ballot come November for the midterm elections. These are the same states where Trump won in 2016 by double digits.
The senate changes are a result of bare-knuckle politics; about eighteen months ago, the Senate’s majority leader terminated the senator’s power to block nominees for the Supreme Court. Initially, all that was needed to advance to a final vote was a 60 super majority vote. Also, the nominations for the Supreme Court were comparatively bipartisan. For instance, Kennedy was confirmed sin 1988 by a 97-0 vote but the stakes have risen since then.
Earlier on Wednesday, Chuck Schumer, the Minority Leader said that the Republicans in the Senate should adhere to the rules they set in 2016 on not considering a nominee for the Supreme Court in an election year. He further said that millions of voters were about to determine the senators who would vote for or against the President’s nominee. Thus, ignoring such facts is an act of hypocrisy.